Suffolk police chief scuppers joint control room in Norfolk

The Norfolk police control room at Wymondham, which is at the centre of reorganisation proposals for Norfolk and Suffolk. The Norfolk police control room at Wymondham, which is at the centre of reorganisation proposals for Norfolk and Suffolk.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014
1:18 PM

Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said he was refusing to let Suffolk’s police control room be relocated and merged with Norfolk.

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In one fell swoop he destroyed the vision for a centralised 999 centre for the two counties at this time.

Mr Passmore announced his decision at a meeting of the Norfolk and Suffolk Collaboration Panel in Wymondham.

His Norfolk counterpart Stephen Bett had been keen for the proposal to go ahead in order to save the cash-strapped constabularies £1.84million a year.

Mr Passmore talked told the meeting: “I’m extremely concerned about the level of risk (of merging the control rooms).

“It’s the biggest decision I’m going to have to make in my life. Merging a control room is a very, very big and perhaps a final step.

“I also accept the financial challenge we face in Suffolk and Norfolk is unprecedented.

“But I do think there are opportunities if we look at policing and wider areas of work.

“We have to make sure that we do everything we can to make the police force effective as well as efficient.

“While the business case stacks up I do have these huge concerns over risk and timing.

I’m not going to agree to do this because I think, with what we have heard today, I cannot sign on the line to move the control room up to Norfolk.”

Ipswich Borough Council leader David Ellesmere was one of the leading opponents of the proposal to move the 999 control to Wymondham.

After Mr Passmore scuppered the plan Mr Ellesmere said: “I think it’s very good news for Suffolk. We have had huge concerns about thus proposal since it was announced and it’s clear the vast majority of people in Suffolk have as well.”

He added that Mr Passmore has held a series of meetings with leaders and chief executives of councils in Suffolk to consult them ahead of his decision.

Mr Ellesmere added: “I’m glad that we have helped in playing our small part.”

Following Mr Passmore’s crushing decision Norfolk Constabulary now sees itself faced with finding another million-pounds worth of savings.

The force’s Chief Constable Simon Bailey told the meeting this was equivalent to 20 police officers or 25 PCSOs, but made clear there were no plans to cut front line services.

Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner Stephen Bett said: “Obviously it’s disappointing. We are going to have to make the cuts in our plan B which are going to cause a lot of angst for the public in Norfolk but we will try to protect front line policing as much as possible.

Asked if he was surprised Mr Passmore had decided against merging control rooms Mr bett added: “I expected it after all the rhetoric that we have seen in the press on the Suffolk side.

“I would have been very surprised if he had gone with it (the plan).”

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